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About the Department

Some history

  • African Studies (Africanistics) as a major, is a programme offered by the Faculty of Oriental studies (The Oriental Institute till January 2008), University of Warsaw.
  • The tradition of African studies at the University of Warsaw dates back to the 1950s. The first Department of African and Semitic Studies was founded in 1969.
  • The Department of African Languages and Cultures was founded in 1977 as a centre for interdisciplinary area studies. Since the beginning until now it has had three regional sections: Ethiopian, Hausa and Swahili studies. In addition to intensive language courses of Amharic, Hausa and Swahili, the department focuses on social, cultural, linguistic, historical and literary studies.
  • From the beginning until 1988 it was directed by Prof. Joanna Mantel-Niećko, Now the Head of the Department is Prof. Iwona Kraska-Szlenk.

BA level studies

The depabartment offers a three-year BA programme, whose aim is to provide students with a basic knowledge of geography, history, art, anthropology, linguistics, and current social issues. During the programme students acquire a good command of one African language in speaking and writing, as well as in reading literature and other source texts. The programme also includes courses of two other African languages and cultures. A graduate has the competence to understand and interpret a range of cultural issues of the chosen region and gains methodological skills needed to do research in the broad area of cultural studies.


MA level studies


Graduates can continue professional and in-depth studies in a two-year MA programme, which offers advanced language courses at the level of fluent communicating in speaking and writing. A student can specialize in a preferred field of studies, such as literature, history, linguistics or anthropology.




Ph.D. in African studies


The staff members are qualified to lead projects within their research areas as well as to supervise doctoral theses. The Department is subsumed under the Faculty’s programme for Ph. D. students. Ph. D. students of the Department write their theses in one of the following areas: African linguistics or African literature.

The Department offers special admission programmes for students from Africa.






Staff members are engaged in research in the following disciplines: linguistics, literature, history, sociology and anthropology. They carry out individual research projects, which are part of a long-termed topic “Languages, literatures and societies in the process of change”. The results are presented during conferences in Poland and worldwide. The list of publications and current activities of the staff members are available at this webpage. The Department maintains academic contacts with African and European universities and invites researchers from outside research institutions.


Students’ activities

studentsStudents of the Department are active members of The African Studies Research Group of the University of Warsaw ( which organizes cultural events promoting African culture (“Days of Africa”), undertakes research trips to Africa and publishes its own magazine “African Review”. Students cooperate with local organizations focusing on Africa, such as those found on the web page and the Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw. Every year they work as volunteers to organize and carry out the annual African Film Festival “Afrykamera” (


The Departmental Journal


Since 1984 current results of research of the Department staff members and students have been published in the Studies of the Department of African Languages and Cultures. The journal also provides space for the publications of researchers from Africa.




The library


The Department has a library for the use of its staff and students. The collection, which corresponds to our research and teaching profile includes various reference works, student books, journals, texts and monographs in African studies. Apart from scientific publications, the library maintains books, journals and recordings in African languages, mainly in Amharic, Hausa and Swahili (enter here)